Smoke rises from the International Nutrition processing
plant after the explosion. REUTERS/Omaha Police Department
An animal feed plant has collapsed after an apparent
explosion, killing an unspecified number of workers and
injuring several others in Omaha, Nebraska.
Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said at a news
conference: "There are fatalities ... we have moved to
Earlier, Kanger said he was not sure how many workers might
be trapped in the International Nutrition plant, where an
explosion, fire and building collapse were reported about
10am (local time). The chief said that as many as 38
employees were in the building and that some might be trapped
in what he described as a dangerous area.
"It's very extreme conditions" inside the plant now, Kanger
told reporters. "There is significant structural damage
Workers' relatives gathered at the plant site, and many told
local media they had received cellphone calls from loved ones
inside who said one or two people might be missing or
Kanger told reporters that he had requested help from urban
search and rescue experts based in Lincoln, Neb., about 50
Nebraska Task Force 1, the Urban Search and Rescue team based
at the Lincoln Fire & Rescue Department, has been
deployed to Omaha, Lincoln Fire Chief John Huff announced.
The 25-member team has expertise in the areas of structural
collapse shoring and technical search. The team also includes
canine search specialists, he said in a prepared statement.
Plant worker Nate Lewis said he felt fortunate to have made
it out. Lewis, 21, told reporters that he was on the first
floor when he heard the blast. The building went dark, so he
used light from his cellphone to make his way across the
production floor to safety outside.
"I was a production line worker, although I don't know if I
want to be that anymore," said Lewis, who said he had worked
at International Nutrition for about four months.
The incident began with what authorities said appeared to be
an explosion and fire. The cause will be investigated after
the search and rescue effort is completed, Kanger said.
No hazardous chemicals were kept at the plant, the chief
Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha was treating four workers
from the plant, according to a spokeswoman. Two of them were
admitted, one with a collapsed lung and one with hypothermia.
In addition, a firefighter was released after receiving
stitches in his hand.
Three other patients at Alegent Creighton hospital in Omaha
were listed in critical, serious and fair conditions. Two of
them were transferred to St. Elizabeth Regional Medical
Center in Lincoln, a spokeswoman said. Three others were
taken to Bergan Mercy Medical Center in Omaha; their
conditions were not immediately available.